By Adam Wilkinson
We are living in the age of the constantly connected consumer.
With an ever-growing range of connected devices with which to consume media and make purchases, the modern customer is more informed and empowered than ever before.
As a result expectations and demands are at an all-time high; the connected consumer knows their rights and knows their own minds.
The connected consumer also expects a smoother service, to be able to follow brands from platform to platform and for everything to be seamlessly integrated.
For customer service providers this presents a number of challenges and opportunities.
Most successful providers are aware of the need to offer a multi-channel experience to customers, but some have been slower to adapt.
Creating a truly multi-channel customer service offering is a complex and time-consuming process, but failure to do this will ensure your business becomes increasingly irrelevant to the new breed of connected consumer.
Here is why you need to adapt:
Online retailing will keep growing
Online sales across the entire retail sector have been outpacing in-store growth for a number of years.
According the Interactive Media In Retail Group (IMRG), the UK’s Online Retail Association and a trusted source of data analysis, in 2016 online sales were up 16 per cent compared with 2015.
Despite uncertainty over the economy in the wake of the Brexit vote, IMRG expects the trend to continue. It predicts a further 14 per cent increase for 2017.
Many retail brands are investing in improving the online customer service experience. If you are not doing so you risk being left behind.
Smartphones are driving online growth
IMRG says smartphones are driving the growth of online retailing, with sales on smartphones up 47 per cent year on year last December.
The smartphone allows the connected consumer greater opportunity to engage with online retailers, not limited by time or location.
Providers that fail to provide a satisfactory smartphone experience will increasingly lose out to those that do.
Research shows customers are less likely to engage with a business after a bad mobile experience, which is why this should be a key focus when looking to improve the customer journey as we know it.
Social media use will keep growing and developing
Social media is becoming an essential tool for customers to communicate with businesses.
Up to half a billion tweets are published every day, and many of these include questions from customers directed specifically at brands and service providers.
Social media use is also developing and diversifying rapidly, with social communication platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and even Snapchat increasingly used for service interactions.
If brands are to understand the customer journey and meet growing demands effectively, they need to get to grips with the connected world we live in.